Aqua-Spark Announces Investment in Global Accelerator for Aquaculture: Hatch Accelerator 1.0

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By Milthon Lujan

Aqua-Spark, the first investment fund focused exclusively on sustainable aquaculture, today announced its investment in Hatch Accelerator 1.0, the first-ever global accelerator program dedicated to the aquaculture industry. The investment will be used to accelerate a group of eight companies between April and June of 2018.

Aqua-Spark launched in December 2013 with a mission to make the rapidly-growing fish farming sector sustainable. By investing across the value chain in companies, technologies, and practices, they are transforming this exploding industry.

While Aqua-Spark focuses on the growth stage of Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs), Hatch was created with the mission of investing in early stage aquaculture opportunities. It was founded in 2017 by Carsten Krome, Georg Baunach, and Wayne Murphy, with support from Alimentos Ventures, which was created by Carsten Krome. Together, the co-founders realized an opportunity and need to help mature early stage companies and technologies that have the potential to transform the landscape.

With a shared history and similar goals (Krome previously worked for Aqua-Spark), Hatch and Aqua-Spark are creating a complete support system to nurture aquaculture startups from innovative ideas through commercialization. Technology and innovation are just starting to play a role in aquaculture. The right solutions could resolve production issues and make the industry much more efficient. More success among these aquaculture startups means faster growth towards a more sustainable industry.

“Aqua-Spark often encounters great ideas, products, and technologies that could have benefitted from ideation phase support, “ explained Mike Velings and Amy Novogratz, co-founders of Aqua-Spark. “Further, it is imperative that we develop a way to finance early stage aquaculture ventures, which Hatch is doing. Between Aqua-Spark and Hatch, there is a clear opportunity for a symbiotic partnership that will improve collective deal flow. We can direct smart, early-phase companies to Hatch, and as Hatch actively finds and grows early stage startups, Aqua-Spark can absorb those that have progressed beyond accelerator. It is a holistic win for the aquaculture industry as a whole.”

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Hatch is located in Bergen, Norway at the epicenter of the global salmon farming industry. The accelerator comprises an intensive 3-month program that provides top teams with aquaculture expertise from across the world — along with industry and investor connections and the facilities required to fast track product development.

“We see Aqua-Spark’s investment in Hatch as the beginning of a long-lasting partnership built on a mutual desire to accelerate innovation and growth within the global aquaculture industry,’” said Dr. Carsten Krome, co-founder of Hatch. “Aqua-Spark has an extensive network and hands-on approach that will help propel Hatch, and syncs nicely with the incubator concept . Together, we cover a major part of the financial value chain –improving resources and opportunities for startups from early stage onward.”

About Aqua-Spark

Aqua-Spark is an investment fund with a focus on sustainable aquaculture businesses around the world. The small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) in which they invest are working toward the sustainable production of aquatic life, such as fish, shellfish, and plants. Aqua-Spark believes that committing to a long-term vision is the way to realize effective and lasting results.

Since 2015, the fund has invested in 10 complementary SMEs, including:

Sogn Aqua (2 investments): A Norwegian fish farm with the potential to change the way red-listed Atlantic Halibut is farmed.
Calysta (3 investments): A biotechnology company that is transforming fish feed–making it healthier and more environmentally sound.
eFishery (2 investments): A crucial technology for monitoring fish feed with the power to revolutionize commercial aquaculture.
Chicoa Fish Farms (2 investments): A fish farm that offers a vertically integrated solution to the freshwater aquaculture industry in Mozambique.
Matorka (2 investments): a land-based, geothermal Arctic Char farm in Iceland.
Indian Ocean Trepang: An innovative sea cucumber farming operation in Madagascar.
Love The Wild: A US-based company that produces sustainable, delicious ready-to-prepare seafood kits.
Protix: A highly technological and data driven insect producer.
Proteon: a leader in natural, safe, and environmentally sustainable phage-platform technology, an alternative to antibiotics.
Cryoocyte: a reproductive technology platform for high precision fish farming.
Thus far, Aqua-Spark has EUR 57 million under management, dedicated to investments in elements of the aquaculture industry that will make fish farming sustainable. The goal of the fund is to grow to EUR 1,5 billion AUM by 2025 – ultimately making sustainability big and profitable enough so it becomes the only way to farm fish.

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About Hatch Accelerator 1.0

HATCH is an aquaculture-focused business accelerator launched by Alimentos Ventures, an early-stage aquaculture investment firm. HATCH bridges the gap between innovative ideas and their commercialization by helping startups become investment and market ready, and by catalysing their aquaculture market entry. Our vision is an aquaculture industry capable of growing sustainably to meet global demand. We connect top teams and their ground-breaking aquaculture innovations with expertise and funding in order to reduce the costs and risks inherent to aquaculture growth and development. We provide and foster a global go-to community for entrepreneurs, commercial players, researchers, and investors alike.

HATCH is based in Bergen, Norway, together with its local partners, Bergen Teknologioverføring AS (BTO) and the Seafood Innovation Cluster. It runs a cohort of 8 companies from April until June 2018, and will run another cohort in Cork, Ireland in Q3/Q4 2018 and expand its program to South East Asia in 2019. 

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